Average child in a very large school?(22 Posts)
So we had a yr5 open evening this week at the secondary school DD will be going to. We liked it but I have a niggle. It is a large school of over 2500 pupils and I'm concerned that DD will just get swallowed up as just another name. I obviously think she is amazing but outside of family she doesn't stand out at all - she's just average. She goes to a fairly large primary now and enjoys school but again is just a pupil - isn't good enough to be on sports teams, doesn't get speaking parts in plays, not popular enough to get class rep or prefect/school captain. Her behaviour is very good and her academic performance is good but not exceptional. She is just an ordinary average (but lovely!) 10yr old - I know this frustrates her as she just wants people to notice her and for teachers to remember her name . So now looking around secondary which is twice the size of her primary I'm worried she's going to get lost again. Any thoughts or am just being pfb?
That is a very large primary if there are 1250 pupils! She will be fine. Coming from such a big school the transition will be easier, she is used to crowds and noise and large groups of friends.
My two went from a village school of 60 in total to a secondary of 800
OK so maybe not 1250 but it has a 120 intake so yes pretty big. I guess we've watched her be marginalised in a big school already and can't see things getting better except for the fact that secondary will be a fresh start so want to get on the right path.
I think you've hit the nail on the head and need to look at other options
My dd is a bit like this in some ways. However she has found a niche in a large comp by a particular activity that she has started. If the school was smaller there might be fewer opportunities and the activity might not be available. Also the large school does mean that there are more people to be friends with. Also the school is aware it is large and takes steps to make it feel smaller e.g. a house system. I think you need to talk to the school and in particular parents of children who go to the school and also parents who have opted for other schools.
Have you looked at other schools? What are your options ?
Think she may well flourish as hard work pays off more in secondary. Out of my dds friends who all went to different school is that the ones that knuckled down, behaved, joined clubs ended up being noticed at secondary and got the exam results. They have lots of different teachers to form opinions about them.
You need to explicitly ask this question to members of staff (and older pupils) and see how they react.
Things you might expect to hear:
- splitting the year groups into halves or quarters initially so they are mixing with fewer pupils
- strong house system with house assemblies and other events
- tutors with a class for the full 5/7 years
- year group progress leader(s) with a good handle on figures noticing if anyone isn't making progress
- a general credit system so the 'average but hardworking and polite' child gets praise and reward
- do mid ability pupils ever get interventions if not making progress, or only low end or G&T
- strong pastoral system if a child is feeling 'lost'
My DD went from a year group of 14 in Y6 to an intake of 250 in Y7.
A class is still a class though. The teachers really should remember the children's names - it's not as if they have to learn the whole year group!
I think in secondary in general there's a lot more opportunity to find your 'niche', so long as you're in a school with plenty of clubs. DD is on the school library team, it's made up of quiet hardworking types who would never be picked for the school council or get on a team! They're really obviously valued by the teachers and get plenty of perks.
Other equivalents might be magazine club / eco-club / gardening club etc etc - all opportunities for children to find their place.
Grumpy A class is still a class though. The teachers really should remember the children's names - it's not as if they have to learn the whole year group!
Not really. The tutor group may just be a class, but an RE teacher for example may teach 4 classes worth of y7s and y8s and y9s plus a GCSE class in y10 and y11. That could be 400 pupils or so that they see every week.
But it is normal for a secondary school teacher to teach a variety of classes. I think they are used to remembering names and all that goes with it.
I have 2 DC in secondary school. Maybe there are some teachers who don't know their names, but TBH I get the opposite impression at parent's evening.
I don't think it's perfect, but I do think it's adequate.....
My DDs went to a High School where the yearly intake was 200 and the Head Teacher knew both their names - this did impress me but I'm not sure it was a good thing!
Grumpy I see what you mean. I agree they do generally know the names, if the child is put in front of them, but in my experience may not necessarily remember the child just from their name iyswim?
At my DDs' school they do things at parents evening to help remember:
a) ask you to bring your child
b) have a list of who they expect to see so they can mug up on them beforehand.
c) have the stats with them
I tend to think that secondary teachers are most likely to remember the gifted, the real strugglers, the poorly behaved, and those with ' pain in the neck parents. Which category are yours ? (my eldest was often 4)
OP your proposed school is twice the size of my DDs' school. If they have the right things in place they should be able to avoid a 'lost middle', but I do think you need to ask questions of a number of people and make sure you are satisfied with the answers.
Our potential school is big so marking place on this
I worked at a 4 form entry Primary and I didn't think it worked. The staff didn't all know each other, never mind knowing the pupils. Yes, senior staff made an effort to learn every pupil's name (we used to stand on the doors as they filed into assembly silently practising and scoring ourselves!!) but we didn't actually 'know' them.
There was a small fraction of the pupils I could have stopped and asked how a football match I knew they were playing in went or whether they liked the film they were going to see last weekend- and TBH it was mainly the ones with behavioural difficulties!
I would want more that one teacher to have that relationship with my child. Just the form tutor isn't enough.
Sister Do you have secondary age kids? I wouldn't think you would get that level of relationship in any state secondary apart from with the tutor except for 'stand out' (for whatever reason) children, or maybe at GCSE level when closer working relationships are formed.
OP. The 2 secondaries round here are ~10 x 5 x 25 pupils. The up sides of schools this size or larger is they can offer a wider choice of friends, a wider range of extra curricular activities, and more importantly a very wide range of GCSE options, suitable for all academic levels and interests.
My DC are at a school which is about 2000. With the right systems in place it can make sure no-one falls through the net, and actually does give a more personal service than another local school which only has 1000 but doesn't do all of this.
I agree look for: houses, the way the year groups is split (DC's works on two parallel halves), how they monitor progress (DCs' used to do 1:1 target setting each term), how they organise pastoral care (either vertical groups or strong year groups can work well).
A big school if it works well can offer everyone a chance to shine as it can have just so many more things going on.
Coming at it from the other side, one of my dc went to a secondary school with an annual intake of 90 (three forms), and the head and deputy still didn't know most pupils' names.
As others have said, as long as the school have got the structure right in terms of form groups, house groups, vertical tutoring, there's no reason why it can't be fine. If you go and look round you should get an idea of the quality of relationships between the staff and pupils - look for pupils chatting happily with staff, teachers addressing pupils by name, and basically everybody looking as if they want to be there and are happy. Look at the size of the individual tutor and teaching groups as well - although admissions are done in multiples of 30, there's no reason why a 180 pupil entry school can't have seven forms of 24 or 25 rather than 6 forms of 30.
My youngest dc is in a school with 180 intake, which I guess is average for a secondary, but twice as big as oldest child's secondary. All the deputy heads seem to know who she is, and I've been approached at school functions without my child being there and had a teacher say, "Oh, now let's see, youre x's mum, aren't you?"
Really, the overall size of the school doesn't tell you anything, it's all in the way it's organised and run.
Op, my dc goes to a big school 240 @ yr. In fact I feel alot more in touch with the secondary school now than the primary school. I (as a parent) can get in touch with any of my dc's subject teachers by email. If I have any queries I just email the teacher/s concerned. So far the teachers I have contacted are very good in responding to my queries.
I think 'lost middle' is a real concern. My step kids went to a big comp - DSD did great - she was a high flyer. My DSD - lost middle. Very different experiences in the same school.
My DD is going to a small secondary because we wanted to avoid 'lost middle'. It's working really well for her.
If you have options take a look around and see how you, and your daughter feel. Comfort level is important - she may be excited by the big school and feel a small school doesn't have as much vibrancy.
I can only speak from my experience as a teacher at a large successful secondary level, and although of course this is school dependent, I think your concerns are sadly justified. It is the middle ground that can and does get lost. This is the same in most schools, irrespective of size. My feeling though is that in a smaller school these children are less likely to feel adrift. They will have more contact with a narrower group of staff. Personally, if I had a quiet 'average' daughter I would do anything in my power to send her to a successful, small school if that was an option. Also, trust your gut, sounds like you had an instinctual reaction that it wasn't right for your dd.
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